September Swells: Big wave kitesurfing.

September Swells: Big wave kitesurfing.

posted in: Kitesurfing, Newquay | 2

One of the first things I was told when I moved to Cornwall 15 years ago was that from the 1st September onwards, you need to be prepared for incoming swell. It’s hard to believe swell’s on its way when you behold a knee-high sideways swell in late August, but so far this tip has never let me down and this September has seen swells building up to the significant peak we saw yesterday.

20ft on the face? Fair enough estimate I reckon.

So yesterday morning I awoke and had a quick drive around, checking out potential spots and decided with my partner in crime, Smiler, that we were set for a classic Watergate Bay day. We got Watergate a similar size two and a half years ago but that day was grey, cold, we were less experienced and we were obviously using older kit. We were very nervous on that day and caught around three waves each before coming in.

A blessing to have this sort of size with relatively warm water

Yesterday by comparison was just all out fun. Of course, the adrenaline gets pumping when you’re blasting out over those huge lines of white water hoping not to get swatted, and when you drop into a biggun hoping that you can hold it all together, but this day we must have had at least ten waves each.  My last one was sadly not captured by the camera, but I can say that was the biggest wave I’ve ever dropped into, never mind even seen in real life. We’ll capture it next time.

Waves moving in fast creating 'offshore' spray in cross-on conditions

On days like this there is so much wind and water moving around that the waves are impossible to catch without an extra power source. I’ve got a 9’1 gun and there’s no way it would have come close to clawing into these beasts. A standup paddle board would have been all over the place in that wind – maybe an open ocean racer could catch one, but what then when you end up on the inside? So the only way you could get in was with a tow, and between the choice (not that we had it!) of a kite or a jetski, the kite makes the most sense.

Running downwind on a looming left

Unlike most tow spots where there is a channel to exit into if you successfully make the ride, Watergate Bay is a beach break with no gaps in the lines of whitewater, so every wave, no matter how successful you are, deposits you straight into the impact zone. Less than ideal conditions for a tow-team, but with the kite the rider is instantly able to blast out of the danger zone without waiting for a pick up.

When I get into surf of this size I really rely on my equipment to do what is asked of it. You don’t want to be bombing down the wave of your life thinking ‘Is my chicken loop gonna false-relase?’ or ‘Is a line gonna break?’ or ‘Will my canopy tumble if I slack-line it?’. The kite becomes your tow source and life preserving equipment all at once,  you want to be able to focus 100% on navigating your way down that face and you don’t want any doubts in your mind that your gear is up to the task.

The 2012 Razor is made for this stuff!

I’m five sessions in now with the Razor and the more I learn about it the more I love it. In my review I said I expect to get my biggest and best waves yet under the Razor, so we’re on the right track that’s for sure. We’ve got plenty more juice on the way so I’ll be posting up any exciting pics of waveriding in Cornwall and beyond that I manage to get. For now I’m very happy that I’ve got the best tools for the job at hand and I would urge anyone looking for some serious juice this autumn to get under a Razor and see what it’s all about.

2 Responses

  1. James Wakeling
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    I would sell my Grandmothers right arm to have a go at conditions like that.

  2. Dom Moore
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    Before you do that Jimbo give us a holler next time you see a good forecast and we’ll get on it! SW winds, 20knots plus and a swell over 3m is a good place to start 🙂 Hope you’re all good in Essex fella, if you’re around next week see you then!

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